1. It’s always the same every year: rescue teams fight the current, pick up the oddballs who wished for excitement and got plenty. Those who thrash about in the shallows, certain they’ll make the headlines, are left to their own devices. Why do I wish to be here alone, the day already gone, swept down river? I still think what you did to yourself is unforgivable. My memory of you is not the same, its stem dwarfed by the breath of some invisible god. 2. I climb a staircase looking for symbols where there aren’t any. What if this house was meant to be mine? The staircase coils up into the ceiling, a pledge of salvation on a small scale. The windows open a wall toward the river— the brown inside of a pustule—swollen, tender, but mine. Its current runs back and forth, in and out of this house, never asleep, never awake enough to drown me. I know I’ll never move out. 3. We talked in bed one night. The floors creaked with silence. We remembered the airport, people’s hands shooting down for their luggage, the man with Stalin’s moustache who gave us a ride home. We clang to each other, waited for words to do what words do. Later, the shadow played through my fingers. I broke the flute like a twig, watched the grass grow blue in heavy rain. Where it ached, I ached. I was afraid of my hands, my webbed hands that knew no rest. 4. I love this rain because it is. I love its absence because it doesn’t hurt. The voice at dawn was someone’s I couldn’t bear to hear. I saw the weight of broken glass on your wrists, the knee of a starved floor in your face. The stain, the howl. It was the beginning of loss, a passage into the wilderness you had always known was in me. The breath of a sky on torn shoulders, the typical cringe in the snow, both dated and hip. As if death were the affirmation one’s worth dying for. 5. I’m still climbing this staircase. Those who watch me are skeptical. Windows slam at my breath. The Pisces lean out of their sign—a constellation eroded of meaning. This year, the flood has been urgent and thick, a good symptom. I don’t know if what I call truth will suffice. I turned off all the lights— now the gallery cries for help. In the dark, spring is out for recess.
Originally from Chisinau, Moldova, Romana Iorga lives in Switzerland. She is the author of two poetry collections in Romanian. Her work in English has appeared or is forthcoming in Harpur Palate, Stoneboat, The Normal School, Cagibi, PANK, and others, as well as on her poetry blog at clayandbranches.com.